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MacBook Pro M2 in the test: Apple ignites the second stage


Apple's first computer chip was a milestone. Now there is a notebook with its successor. We tested it and found: This time the increase in performance is on a different level.

Enlarge image

The new MacBook Pro 13 inch with M2 chip and M2 image

Photo: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

With the new version of the MacBook Pro with a 13-inch screen, Apple is making my life easier.

When asked what is different about the new model compared to its predecessor, the answer is easy for me: very little.

  • It has a new chip, the M2.

  • You can order it with up to 24 gigabytes (GB) of RAM, eight more than before.

  • It has become more expensive and the cheapest version costs 1599 euros, the predecessor with the M1 chip was available from 1412.45 euros.

  • Otherwise not much has changed in Apple's small professional notebook.

    Unlike the new MacBook Air, which has been completely redesigned around the M2, the 13-inch MacBook Pro comes in the same chassis as last year's model and its predecessor, has the same ports, the same screen, the same keyboard and even the same touch bar.

    This is the name of the narrow OLED screen above the keyboard, which is built in instead of function keys and can take on different functions depending on the software.

    This can be useful in programs like Logic Pro X.

    However, the touch bar has obviously not become particularly popular. In any case, it is no longer available in the 14- and 16-inch versions of the MacBook Pro that Apple introduced last fall (here is our test).

    Many things can be clarified with this in a few words: The screen of the new model is just as good as that of the predecessor, and the revised keyboard is also much better than the tough and loudly clattering ones of some predecessors, much softer, quieter and more direct.

    The touchpad is huge and makes every thought of a mouse go to waste, but the black bar on the screen that houses the cameras and sensors is still there, where it annoys some people.

    The connections are also identical, there are two Thunderbolt/USB-C sockets and one for headphones, nothing more.

    But there is also Bluetooth 5.0 and Wifi 6 for everything that can be done wirelessly.

    You have to do without an HDMI port or even a card reader, as in the larger Pro models.

    A little more of everything

    Instead, there's the M2 chip, which Apple just unveiled at developer conference WWDC.

    One of its advantages: It can be equipped with more memory, which can be important for some applications in image or video editing.

    However, the upgrade from eight to 24 GB is not a bargain at 460 euros.

    Above all, it should deliver more power.

    Apple chip developers have now installed ten graphics cores instead of the previous eight and increased the data throughput of the main memory by 50 percent to a whopping 100 gigabytes per second compared to the M1 chip.

    This should help, especially with large amounts of data.

    The processing of videos is also accelerated by a so-called media engine, which is also available in the Pro, Max and Ultra versions of the M1.

    Of course, you can only really use it if you edit videos in high resolutions such as 4K and 8K on the notebook.

    But what's the point?

    Nothing in everyday life.

    When surfing the web, watching films, writing e-mails and texting in Word, the old MacBook Pro is just as dramatically under-challenged as the new one.

    The differences only become noticeable in demanding applications.

    In the Cinebench performance test of the 3D software Cinema 4D, for example, the M2 model achieves around 13 percent higher performance values ​​than the MacBook with the M1.

    The historical comparison is more impressive: A MacBook Pro from 2017 only achieved a quarter of the performance of the current model in the test.

    Enlarge image

    The packaging is made entirely of paper and cardboard, but is unfortunately wrapped in plastic film

    Photo: Matthias Kremp / DER SPIEGEL

    The benchmark tests of the image processing software Affinity Photo brought similar results.

    Only in the values ​​for Apple's Metal graphics technology is the M2 chip clearly ahead of the M1 with 36 percent more performance.

    Games in particular should benefit from this.

    What struck me from these tests is that when the new model's fan kicks in under high loads, it's slightly louder than the M1 MacBook's.

    Measured with the app from a distance of 50 centimeters, the M1 model is 29 decibels and the M2 model is 30 decibels, a marginal difference.

    Both are on the level of a soft whisper.

    The endurance test in Cinebench was remarkable.

    He showed that the enormous battery life of the current MacBooks - Apple states up to 20 hours - has its limits if you let the chip run at full steam without a break.

    After two and a half hours, during which the M2 MacBook repeatedly surpassed its predecessor in generating 3D graphics, both devices switched off with an empty battery less than 30 seconds apart.

    Of course, those who mainly read and write should rarely find themselves in such situations.

    In everyday workflows, the fans of the MacBook Pro don't make a peep, the chip puts many of its processing cores to sleep, and the battery lasts for a correspondingly long time.

    Depending on what you do with the device on the go, you can leave the power adapter at home.


    👍 Very high performance

    👍 Very good endurance

    👍 Good screen

    👎 Few connections

    👎 High price

    The new model doesn't have an »Oha« experience like the first MacBook with an Apple chip.

    The increase in performance of the M2 chip compared to the M1 is so moderate in many areas that you don't notice it in everyday use.

    With the same battery life you get more performance.

    Users of games, video programs and image processing software will primarily benefit from this.

    After the huge leap forward that the M1 brought, such modest improvements could be the future of Apple chips.

    which would be okay.

    The vast majority of applications are already completely overpowered with the M1.

    For many users, more important than more power is endurance, of which the M2 also offers plenty if you don't push it to the limit.

    Background: Product tests in the Netzwelt department

    Expand areaWhich products are reported on in the Netzwelt section?

    We decide for ourselves which products we report on in the Netzwelt and which we test or not. We do not receive any money or other consideration from the manufacturer for any of the test reports.

    It can happen for various reasons that we do not report on products even though we have corresponding test products.

    Open areaWhere do the test products come from?

    We usually get test devices and review copies of games from the manufacturer free of charge for a certain period of time, sometimes even before the official release.

    This allows our test reports to appear in time or close to the release of the product.

    We only test pre-release versions or devices from pre-series production in special cases.

    As a rule, we wait until we can get test devices or game versions that are identical to the retail versions.

    If they are already available in stores or online, in some cases we purchase products at our own expense.

    Expand areaMay the Netzwelt editors keep the products?

    As a rule, test devices are returned to the manufacturers after the end of the test.

    The exceptions are review copies of games and long-term loans: For example, we have game consoles and smartphones in the editorial office that we are allowed to use for a long time.

    For example, we can report on software updates, new accessories and new games or make long-term judgments.

    For example, review copies are often collected at the end of a year and sold at a company flea market, with the proceeds being donated to charitable causes.

    Some of them are also donated directly to charitable organizations.

    AreaCan the Netzwelt editors be invited by companies to travel?expand

    DER SPIEGEL always bears the costs for travel to events, regardless of whether they take place in Germany or abroad. This also applies if, for example, a company takes over the travel planning due to short-term appointments.

    Events to which we travel at our own expense include the Ifa, CES, E3 and Gamescom trade fairs, developer events such as Google i/O, WWDC and Build and events from companies such as Apple, Google, Microsoft or Nintendo.

    At conferences such as the Chaos Communication Congress or the re:publica, we usually get free press tickets, like other press representatives, because we report on the conference and are not traditional participants.

    SectionWhat's up with the affiliate ads in some articles?expand

    Since December 2016, some Netzwelt articles have contained so-called affiliate ads that contain so-called links to online shops.

    If a user visits one of these shops via such a link and makes an online purchase there, DER SPIEGEL receives a share of the sales in the form of a commission, but never the author individually.

    This commission is paid by the retailer, not the manufacturer of the product.

    The ads appear in articles regardless of whether a product test is positive or negative.

    You can find a detailed explanation of affiliate links by clicking on this link.

    Source: spiegel

    All tech articles on 2022-06-22

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